Citizens' Issues
CAT find some provisions of Sexual Harassment Act unconstitutional

According to CAT, Sections 4 and 7 of the Act can be termed unconstitutional because once an adjudicatory body is to be determined as slanted in its sway, it destroys the fairness concept embedded in adjudication

A recent order by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), regarding four cases of sexual harassment, has questioned certain provisions in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. The CAT bench comprising judges KB Suresh and PK Pradhan said, “Sections 4 and 7 of the Act can be termed unconstitutional because once an adjudicatory body is to be determined as slanted in its sway, it destroys the fairness concept embedded in adjudication.”

 

Section 4 of the Act mandates that atleast two members of the Internal Complaints Committee, which is required to deal with sexual harassment cases in the workplace, must be “committed to the cause of women.” Section 7 adds that the Local Committee constituted under this section should be chaired by "eminent woman in the field of social work committed to the cause of women." In this regard, the Tribunal said, “If members of the adjudicatory committee are to be committed to an ideology [cause of women], their mental frame will be such that it would give an opportunity for unwelcome bias and their finding also will be in resonance of their personal commitment.”

 

This observation from the Bench was made in the process of hearing four cases of sexual harassment where the accused employees were found to be erroneously guilty. These cases related to KIOCL Ltd, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), and the Department of Posts (DoP).

 

When the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2012, activists had protested what they saw to be unfair provisions in the Bill. Chairman of the All India Men's Welfare Association (AIMWA), Rajesh Vakharia had said that, "The proposed settlement mechanism is nothing but an extortion mechanism to rob men of property and self esteem. Such feminist dominated inquiry committee has also been given power to transfer respondent during inquiry. Such power is likely to be used in such manner to deny justice to man."

 

The Bill had been stuck in legislative process for over five years before it was finally passed in February 2013. It was passed in an extremely charged atmosphere after the horrific gangrape in New Delhi. While protests against the provisions of the Bill were either muted or absent during that time, the lacunae in the bill's provisions seem to have finally come full circle.

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Apple may refund $400 million to consumers in digital book settlement

Apple has been accused for violating US antitrust law by orchestrating a price-fixing scheme with five major publishers of electronic books

Apple will refund up to $400 million to consumers ensnared in a plot to raise the prices of digital books unless the company gets a court to overturn a decision affirming its pivotal role in the collusion.

 

The settlement bill emerged in a court filing on Wednesday made a month after attorneys suing Apple notified US District Judge Denise Cote in New York that an agreement had been reached to avoid a trial over the issue.

 

Lawsuits filed on behalf of digital book buyers had originally been seeking damages of up to $840 million after Cote ruled in a separate trial last year that Apple had violated US antitrust law by orchestrating a price-fixing scheme with five major publishers of electronic books.

 

Cote’s decision sided with the US Justice Department’s contention that Apple’s late CEO, Steve Jobs, had schemed with major e-book publishers to charge higher prices in response to steep discounts offered by Amazon.com Inc. Jobs, who died in October 2011, negotiated the deals as Apple was preparing to release the first iPad in 2010.

 

Apple is appealing Cote’s decision from last year. The Cupertino, California, company will not have to pay the $400 million settlement if it prevails. If the appeals court voids Cote’s verdict and returns the case to her for further review, Apple would still have to refund $50 million to consumers. No money will be owed if the appeals court concludes that Apple did not break any antitrust laws.

 

“Apple did not conspire to fix e-book pricing, and we will continue to fight those allegations on appeal. We did nothing wrong and we believe a fair assessment of the facts will show it,” the company said in a statement.

 

A decision on Apple’s appeal, now in the Second Circuit in New York, might not be issued for another year, according to Wednesday’s filing. Consumer attorneys in the case are still hoping to get Cote’s preliminary approval of the settlement.

 

If its appeal is rejected, it would be more of a blow to Apple’s image than its finances. The company can easily afford to refund the money, given it has about $150 billion in cash.

User

India's gold imports in June up 65% to $3.12 billion

The high imports of the precious metal have marginally pushed up India's trade deficit to $11.76 billion in June from $11.28 billion a year ago period

After declining for seven months in a row, India's gold imports in June grew 65.13% to $3.12 billion from $1.88 billion in June 2013.

 

The high imports of the precious metal have marginally pushed up the country's trade deficit to $11.76 billion in June from $11.28 billion in the same month last year.

 

In October 2013, gold imports had risen 62.5% to $1.3 billion.

 

The government has imposed restrictions on inbound shipments of the precious metal to narrow the current account deficit (CAD). India's CAD, which is the excess of foreign exchange outflows over inflows, touched a historic high of 4.8% of GDP in 2012-13, mainly due to rising imports of petroleum products and gold.

 

A high CAD puts pressure on the rupee, which in turn makes imports expensive and fuels inflation.

 

The government had increased customs duty on gold to 10% and banned import of gold coins and medallions, while the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) linked imports of the metal to exports.

 

India is the largest importer of gold, which is mainly utilised to meet the demand of the jewellery industry.

 

The Commerce and Industry Ministry is pitching for easing of the gold import restrictions to boost gems and jewellery exports, which declined by 5% in June to $3.31 billion.

 

According to experts, decline in gold prices in the global market have pushed up imports in the country.

 

Gold in New York, which normally sets the price trend on the domestic front, fell by 0.7% to $1,297.10 an ounce after touching $1,292.60, the lowest since 19th June.

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